A Preliminary Enquiry into the Origins of Capitalism

Harlan's Centers and Non-centers

A tentative enquiry into the origins of true civilisation, and of capitalist barbarism.

Submitted by westartfromhere on February 13, 2024

Above: Map showing Great Civilisation stretching from America, across Africa, to the far reaches of Asia (C2, A2, B2); also, places of origin of capitalist barbarism, Mesoamerica (circa 8,000 BCE), Mesopotamia (circa 10,000 BCE) and Northern China (circa 8,000 BCE) (C1, A1, B1).

'This primitive accumulation plays in political economy about the same part as original sin in theology.' Marx

Jack Harlan proposed 'the theory that agriculture originated independently in three different areas'. Others have made 'suggestions that, in each case, the center and noncenter interact with each other.' The Book of Genesis suggests that the revolution from non-centered subsistence agriculture to centred accumulative agriculture came as a curse: 'God sent them forth from Eden, to till the ground from whence they were taken.'

We propose, based on the paths of the Trade Winds, that agriculture developed in Africa, travelling east to the Southeast Asian and South pacific non-center, and west to the South American non-center. In terms of time, this development of agriculture in the South must be most ancient. The development of agriculture in the centers of agricultural origin is a far more recent mutation of native African farming practices.

Now, fortunately, an African farming method has been documented which predates this laborious tilling of the soil. The method involves the swinging of a basket over the seed heads of wild grains. By this method, as late as 1963, households were able to collect 1000 kg of grain in a year, a stark contrast to the picture portrayed by our good friend Herr Engels of the "poor harvests in their little gardens".

The imposition of primitive accumulation over primitive communism does play in the political economy the same part as original sin does in theology. Primitive accumulation is the birth pang of the political economy and marks the beginning of societies divided into opposing classes of expropriator and expropriated, exploiter and exploited. Preceeding it is primitive communism, a way of life that prior to the rise of so-called civilisation existed in a great swathe stretching from the southern tip of the Americas, right across sub-Saharan Africa, to the far reaches of the Far East, with its peripheries in north America, Europe and Asia. Pre-colonial Australia is a landlocked example of primitive communism.

Footnote: 'The term "primitive art" is a legacy from the anthropologists of the nineteenth century who saw the Europe of their day as the apex of social evolution.'

Sources: Marx, K., Capital, Part VIII: Primitive Accumulation, Chapter Twenty-Six: The Secret of Primitive Accumulation; Plant Domestication and the Origins of Agriculture, Bennett B. C., Department of Biological Sciences and Center for Ethnobiology and Natural Products, Florida International University, Miami; The Living Fields: Our Agricultural Heritage, Harlan J. R.; Der Ursprung der Familie, des Privateigenthums und des Staats. Im Anschluss an Lewis H. Morgan’s Forschungen, Engels F.; Book of Beginnings, Chapter 3, verse 23; African Art: an introduction, pg. 28, Willett F.